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African press review 20 December 2013

The Kenyan president is off the hook in the Hague for now, Uganda takes a new look at oil exploitation and South African President Jacob Zuma isn't looking too good in Madiba's shadow.


Nairobi-based paper the Daily Nation runs with the headline "Bensouda admits she has insufficient evidence against President Uhuru" - reporting that the International Criminal Court's prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has asked for more time to gather evidence against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kenya's post-election violence 2007-8

Kenyatta, along with his deputy William Ruto, are to be tried in The Hague for allegedly masterminding sweeping violence in 2007. The ICC has charged Kenyatta and Ruto with crimes against humanity but reliable witnesses for the prosecution are becoming hard to find.

The Daily Nation points out that the trials have been dogged by problems and delays, including Kenya's campaign to have the cases put on hold.

The government argues that Kenya needs its top politicians to tackle Al-Qaeda-linked fighters in neighbouring Somalia. Deal with the explosive jihadist hub first, attend tedious court proceedings later, it says.

In Uganda a regional committee is pressing government for more environmentally friendly oil deals. According to the Daily Monitor, local leaders will be negotiating guidelines for oil exploitation during a three-day conference with France's Total oil company and the  government.

Oil waste has been a major issue in the region in the last two years, as communities face uncontrolled dumping by companies like Total. The committee wants all companies to "take co-existence with nature seriously".

South African President Jacob Zuma is coming under increasing criticism in his country. He's making headlines today - not for his policies, but for his lavish holiday home.

Zuma spent nearly 15 million euros on security upgrades to his rural estate, including what has been officially called a giant water reservoir in case of fire. Otherwise known as a swimming pool.

Business Day reports that the small team of ministers dispatched to examine Zuma's home have essentially cleared his name.

In a report released on Thursday, they found the cost overruns justified. The report reprimands Zuma's critics who had suggested he just move elsewhere: it would be arrogant and insensitive, one minister said, to ask him to relocate to a safer, cheaper area.

Business Day does point out that the controversy is not over: investigations into Zuma's finances however still continue with a public protector report due to be released later this month.

Resentment towards Zuma hit a high point last week, as he was booed at a memorial service for the late former President Nelson Mandela.

It's true it's hard to live in Madiba's shadow - this is the point Business Day raises in an opinion piece running with the optimistic headline, "Use the Mandela brand as a building block for a great and prosperous future."

The daily complains that, if you travel overseas and you try to tell people you’re from South Africa, the response is likely to be either "Oh, South America" or "I have a friend in Africa who lives in Nigeria whom you may know".

But as soon as you mention Mandela, things get less frustrating. The paper argues that this is the point of branding and the Mandela brand in particular. India does well with the Gandhi brand, so South Africa should capitalise on what it has now, educate a class of technocrats and encourage leaders to step out of their box of narrow self-interest.

An example of thinking outside the box a little too much comes from Tanzania, where something went terribly wrong with an Ethiopian pilot's sense of direction this week.

Tanzania's Daily News reports that a jet got lost and landed in the small airport of Arusha, mistaking it for Kilimanjaro International Airport. The pilot apparently misunderstood air traffic directions and struggled to land on the narrow runway in Arusha, finally ending up in the mud and grass.

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